The Odisha Eco-tourism Board on Wednesday decided that a priority list of top destinations will be drawn up so that the sites can be upgraded within the next few months. The destinations will be operated in PPP mode.
The Odisha Forest Development Corporation (OFDC), which has been mandated as nodal agency for eco-tourism in the State as per the Eco-tourism Policy, will play facilitator’s role.
The Board, chaired by Chief Secretary J K Mohapatra, said awareness will be created on eco-tourism through workshops. At present, there are 18 eco-tourism sites in the State. The meeting felt that potential of eco-tourism is immense in Odisha and emphasis should be on attracting nature lovers.
The eco-tourism plans should also take into account the carrying capacity of the destinations. Sharing the benefits with local communities will be vital for chalking out the models. A communication plan will also be mounted on benefit sharing. The Board said the Forest and Environment department will work in close coordination with hoteliers, restaurant owners, tour operators and NGOs in this regard .Eco-tourism Society of India president Mandip Singh Soin made a presentation on eco-tourism.
Appreciating the measures of the Government, he said Odisha is the third State to set up such a board after Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh.
The OFDC has already circulated a concept note for low impact eco-tourism besides setting up an eco-tourism cell in OFDC under the Director, Commercial. It is also developing a web portal for eco-tourism.
Finance Secretary U N Behera, Revenue and DM Secretary Taradatt, Secretary, Forest and Environment, R K Sharma, ST and SC Development Department Secretary Santosh Sarangi, PCCF P N Padhi, Chief Wildlife Warden J D Sharma and MD of OFDC Siddhanta Das were present.